Before I delve into today’s entry, I feel the need to dispel any notions that I might be advocating an incipient form of Gnosticism. The title of this post seems to convey the idea that there is essential, secret knowledge outside of and integral to the human experience. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am not a Gnostic nor an advocate of Gnosticism. What do those terms mean? The former is one who practices Gnosticism, which views the spirit as divine and matter as evil. When taken to its logical conclusion, Gnosticism denies that anything done in the body is harmful because the body will cease to exist at death. The soul lives on eternally as spirit, which means it does not take with it any residue done in the body. Paul confronts this Gnostic teaching with respect to sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 in the English Standard Version (ESV).
What I have in mind with today’s blog is something entirely different. I want to explore the difference between what God reveals and what he withholds. Now, this is a huge subject, and I could be opening Pandora’s Box; however, the following verse in the Old Testament has captured my mind and heart:
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, ESV).
Deuteronomy rounds out the first five books of the Old Testament, which possesses a fancy name known as the Pentateuch. Moses is recognized universally as the author of these books. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses gives the law a second time to the people of Israel. He gave it the first time in the book of Exodus; however, the older generation that experienced God’s deliverance out of Egypt rebelled against him for refusing to enter the Promised Land. This led the nation of Israel to wander the wilderness for forty years until the last of that generation died in the desert. The above scripture text occurs near the end of Deuteronomy. It serves as a reminder for the people of Israel about the character of God and his ways.
In many ways, Deut. 29:29 reveals an otherness or an independence about God. It is his will or prerogative to reveal and to conceal a matter. This is an entirely separate issue from the sermon on the mount about seeking, asking, and knocking. Here is the point…God reveals what has been hidden at the proper time. According to his grace, wisdom, and love, the Lord shows himself to the people of Israel through the Ten Commandments, the instructions for the tabernacle, and the Levitical sacrifices. From my point-of-view, this side of Christ’s death and resurrection, those instructions seem tedious. The exactness of the details is incessant as they exemplify God’s immense perfection. His standards for righteousness are high, but then again, he is holy and transcendent. This alone should jog my mind and heart out of complacency in order to reckon with who he is and who I am. There is a difference between God and his creation.
Because there is a difference between God and his creation, it is a supreme act of grace for the creator to break into this world with guidelines and parameters for relating to him. There is a reason why the Old Testament is often times referred to as the Old Covenant. After all, the word covenant suggests a pact or contract between two or more parties. If God had chosen to remain silent after creation as the religious deist suggests, then mankind would be in the dark about himself and others and so on. None of the pieces would fit, but even worse, there would not be a reason to ever conceive of the pieces fitting together into a coherent whole. The moment God breaks into his creation, to reveal things long hidden, is the moment that grace arrives and things change. This is true for every person that has ever lived and died. When God reveals himself through his word, it demands a response. Ignorance is no defense. Delay is tantamount to disobedience.
Earlier in Deuteronomy, God reveals to Moses that he did not choose the nation of Israel because they were more righteous, or numerous, or more powerful than the surrounding nations (Deut. 9:1-6, ESV). He chooses them in order to confirm words spoken in the past to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deut. 9:5b, ESV). I find this to be huge. It suggests that there are words and promises from my past that await their full fulfillment. There are times I run around asking, seeking, and knocking for a new revelation, for a new word. Little do I know, the Lord might be working on outstanding words and promises from the past, which I may have forgotten. God still reveals things about the future, but do I recall what he said last year about this summer, or this fall, or this winter? What I want to stress is the eternal nature of God’s revealed word. This is straight out of the passage from Deut. 29:29. When God reveals things, those remain available for forever…they last. There is no sell by date on those revealed things. If God has not revealed it, then I must wait in trust while embracing his sovereign purposes. Has the Lord revealed any words or promises in the past that await their fulfillment? Is there a desire to keep asking, seeking, and knocking for things already revealed that have not come to pass?